Saturday, April 25, 2009

Discovering Dumaguete 5

Living in Dumaguete is especially good if you enjoy nature and outdoor activities. Dumaguete itself has some charm, but it is a typical small Philippine municipality. It does have several major universities, including Silliman University. The city's ambiance and tranquil, moderate way of life make it conducive to learning and intellectual pursuits. Dumaguete has become a melting pot of students, professionals, artists, scholars and the literati coming from different parts of the country and the world.

Silliman University is the dominant institution of higher learning in Dumaguete, providing the city with a distinct university town atmosphere. It is the oldest Protestant university in the country and the oldest American-established university in Asia. The 610,000 m² campus is adjacent to and intermixed with the city's downtown district.

Other Dumaguete universities are Foundation University, Negros Oriental State University, and Saint Paul University in Dumaguete.

What really makes Dumaguete a good place to live for me are the many adventurous destinations within a days drive of the city. Many are well publicized and can be reached by hired car or tour bus. Others are little known to tourists, but have an indelible charm. Hot springs abound in the local mountains and foot hills of the volcanic mount Talinis. Waterfalls can also be found by exploring the steep mountain roads outside Dumaguete. One such place is Pulang Bato.

Where is Pulang Bato you ask? Well it is a little known small series of waterfalls in the mountains near the PNOC Geothermal generating plant in Valencia. Recently upgraded with stone lined natural swimming pools, and a nipa pavilion, it is a small out of the way place you have to just know about.

Pulang Bato is the place of red rocks. The rocks are red stained from all the minerals issuing forth from the shear rock walls on the way up the small paved road to the falls. Many come just to bath in these waters for medicinal reasons. Bamboo tubes protrude from the rocks in certain spots, delivering the healing mineral waters to bathers. Further up the road lies the swimming area and water falls. The entire region is rife with volcanic stem vents and sulfuric mud slides.

Particularly scenic during the week when few people are there, you can hike into the hills and discover remote falls with absolutely no one around, pristine natural Philippine wilderness.

Dumaguete offers many things to many kinds of people, but its central location in a rural farming province, and proximity to so many natural wonders are most interesting for me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bahura Resort

Bahura Resort and Spa is a first class 5 star beach resort located in Dauin near Dumaguete City. Bahura Resort and Spa offers accommodations and many other services such as diving and eco tourism, as well as adventure tourism in the nearby mountains.

Bahura Resort and Spa is a 5 hectare plot situated in the middle of a ocean side coconut plantation. The resort is designed to be a tropical self contained venue for those looking for a 5 star experience. Staying at Bahura Resort and Spa is refreshing, relaxing, and rewarding for anyone visiting Dumaguete.

The villas of Bahura Resort and Spa have loft bedrooms, a full bar setup, a mini kitchen, an entertainment system, and bathroom equipped with whirlpool tub and shower. The villas at Bahura Resort and Spa are 61 square meters.

The rooms at Bahura Resort and Spa are spacious. All rooms are equipped with two queen-sized beds, entertainment system, shower stall, and safe deposit box.

Bahura Resort and Spa also offers the following facilities and services to their guests: conference rooms, al fresco dining area, room service, spring water pools, laundry services, airport transfers, various water sports, souvenir shop, PADI dive center, and local tours to the various interesting places in Dumaguete.

While staying at Bahura Resort and Spa, you can participate in activities that will make your stay memorable and adventurous. The Negros province where Bahura Resort and Spa is located is full of natural wonders that are waiting to be explored. There are crater lakes, mountains, underground caves, waterfalls, and dolphin watching.

Activities like hiking, kayaking, picnicing at the beach, and diving, are great adventures to take part in while you are staying at Bahura Resort and Spa.

Bahura Resort and Spa is a top notch resort in the Dumaguete area where your vacation will be one of the most memorable ones in your life. Lying within a tropical garden, in a place full of natural attractions and wonders, Bahura Resort and Spa will offer you a rewarding, refreshing, and relaxing vacation in Dumaguete.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dumaguete Belfry Tower

The bell tower of St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral was constructed in 1811. It's purpose was to inform local citizens of daily mass schedules. It also served as a watchtower for forthcoming attacks by Moro pirates coming from Mindanao.

The Dumaguete Belfry was restored in 1985 and has since become a popular landmark. A garden now surrounds the tower and a grotto of the Virgin Mary stands erect near the base. Catholics flock daily to light candles for their prayers or for confirmation of their faith.

The Dumaguete Belfry is one of the most famous historical landmarks in Dumaguete. There are few remaining artifacts and historical building dating back to the Spanish era. The notable exception are the large number of Spanish era cathedrals scattered throughout Negros. I have upcoming articles and photos of some of these.

The Belfry photographed at the turn of the 20th Century.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dumaguete Sex Workers Numbers Increase

Sex workers in Dumaguete, Sibulan up due to poverty
from The Sun Star Dumaguete
By Victor L. Camion

POVERTY is the main factor of a rapid increase of commercial sex workers in the city of Dumaguete and in the town of Sibulan, a top official of the Silliman University Medical Center (SUMC) extension program disclosed. Dr. Fe Wale, in-charge of Marina Clinic, said there are at least 300 sex workers in Dumaguete City and Sibulan.Marina Clinic is an extension program of SUMC funded by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef). It is tasked to monitor the activities and the protections of the sex workers.

But Wale admitted that only 20 of the more than 300 sex workers are members of the Magdalena group. (a self help NPO) Although some of the sex workers are hiding especially students, majority of them are working openly. Tocino Country in Looc, is a haven of the more than a hundred of sex workers in Dumaguete City, said Wale. She said beerhouses and bars in Sibulan, on the other hand, are the heavens of the sex workers in the town. "We don't have the right to order them to stop being commercial sex workers," admitted Wale.She clarified that their task is to advise them to stop selling their flesh. "They (commercial sex workers) are ready to quit their job so long as they would have an alternative means of earning", Wale said. The doctor stressed that majority of the sex workers are breadwinners for their families.

Myrna (not her real name), president of the Magdalena org., and working as pimp of sex workers at Tocino Country, admitted that although some of the sex workers are selling their flesh just to buy shabu, majority of them are helping their parents in the province.Myrna, who also admitted being a sex worker before, stressed that she was forced to work as sex worker just to provide milk for her daughter.She admitted that at the age of 16, she became addicted to illegal drugs, until she got pregnant.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bais Whale Watching

Bais City is known for its proximity to a protected marine sanctuary in the Tañon Strait. Dense Mangrove forrests line Bais Bay. This is a natural feeding ground for cetaceans. Dolphins especially like the Mangrove forests growing into the bay to cruise for food. From the Capiñahan Wharf in the South Bay, several boats head out to the Bais Bay and into the Tañon Strait where the dolphins frolic in the water, and the whales emerge from the deep. It is fascinating to see these sea creatures up close. Other activities include swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling and scuba diving in the nearby reefs.
Dolphin and Whale Watching in Bais City
The adventure starts with a cruise along Bais Bay then out to Tañon Strait, the natural habitat of several whale and dolphin species. Among the kinds of dolphins you may encounter during the trip are, spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and long snouted spinner dolphins. Melon headed whales, short finned pilot whales, pygmy sperm whales, pygmy killer whales and dwarf sperm whales are also found in the Tañon Strait.

After seeing Dolphins and maybe a whale, you will head out to Manjuyod White Sand Bar where the boat drops anchor. Here you can enjoy your lunch of grilled pork or fish while looking out onto the blue sea and the white sands of Manjuyod. This place is also ideal for swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling and scuba diving. The bamboo houses on stilts are available for overnight lodging if your so inclined. Be aware at high tide the sand bar disappears beneath your cabin and you are for all practical purposes in the middle of the bay in a house on stilts!

The tour takes a full day beginning from seven in the morning and ending at four in the afternoon. The dolphin and whale watching seasons are during the months of March to October. The rest of the year is affected by the Northeast Monsoon which makes cruising difficult. The wind and waves also inhibit the dolphins and whales from surfacing.

Bais Hotels
If you plan to stay the night at Bais City there are two hotels available. One is the Bahia Hotel, a small hilltop inn with a room rate of P700 for a basic double accommodation. The other is La Planta Hotel located within Bais City proper with room rates beginning from P1,000 to P1,700.

Bais Tourism Office (035)541-5161 / 402-8174 Fax (035)402-8181
Bahia Hotel (035)402-8850 / 402-8851
La Planta Hotel (035)403-8321 / 541-5755

How to get to Bais
Bais City is less than an hour away from Dumaguete. The Capiñahan Wharf in South Bais Bay is the most convenient point of take off to Tañon Strait. The best and most cost effective way is to organize a group and rent a van in Dumaguete to bring you to the Capiñahan Wharf. The reason being that the boats are not scheduled tours but really charters, you rent the boat which can hold up to 5-20 persons depending on the craft. The rental boat that will take you out to the Strait costs between P2,500 to P3,000 depending on the number of people boarding. Being in a group allows you to split the transportation costs.